Special thanks to Catholibertarian for bringing this to the attention of her blog followers. As an Army War on Terror veteran, I know too well how much military chaplains mean to those of us. Whatever one thinks of the political gamesmanship surrounding the government shutdown or any of the politicians involved, but threatening priests with arrest for ministering to Catholics in the Armed Services, including barring them from conducting Mass, is something I think we should all agree is incredibly wrong, regardless of our faiths or political beliefs.
Also, the reason this is an issue is because there are not enough Catholic military chaplains for the number of Catholics who serve in the military, requiring the military to hire civilian priests. I can testify to this reality because during my time in the Army, almost all of the military chaplains were Protestants. In addition, military personnel of other faiths, such as Buddhists, Jews and Muslims, were frequently dependent on civilian clergy, whether they wanted to attend a service, receive counseling, celebrate their holidays or get married.
I, therefore, am inferring that while Protestants may be largely unaffected, many Catholic military personnel are being hurt by this, and those other religions are hurt even more by this combination of government corruption and a complete lack of compassion for the religious needs of those who serve.
Priests who are contracted out to minister to the lay faithful may be arrested if they minister to Catholics in the military during the government shutdown. Even if a priest volunteers he may be arrested. So if they practice their faith priests could be arrested. Why the heck should a government shutdown determine whether a priest can say Mass, pray, do weddings and funerals, and hear confessions? This is clearly a violation of the First Amendment.
Obama still has 129 staffers working directly for him during the shutdown. Biden has 12. Most don’t know how to do the lesser jobs that need doing – like send a news release! And that’s okay, but when it comes to the spiritual needs of our troops, contracted priests have been threatened with arrest if they voluntarily (unpaid)…
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